Do vacations cause havoc with your carefully controlled diets?
I recently returned from a vacation trip to Georgia, and when I weighed myself, I found I'd lost 2 pounds. I've concluded that I should take more vacations and try to get Medicare to pay for them, but I figure the chances of that are as small as the chance that I'll grow another 6 inches so my BMI is perfect.
Many people gain weight on vacations, but I do usually lose. Why is that?
I think it has to do with the reasons we eat, as well as the type of diet we're on. And one often walks a lot more on a vacation, depending, of course, on the type of trip.
The whole point of a vacation is to take a break from work, as well as cutting oneself more slack in other areas. So if you're on vacation, it's tempting to figure you deserve to eat a lot of the things you generally try to avoid, or at least limit in quantity. Faced with a buffet loaded with tempting treats, it can be hard to turn them down when you're on vacation, especially when you're on a cruise or other trip in which the food is included in the price of the package.
I've always been "thrifty," well, OK, stingy. And when I paid for a meal that included an appetizer, entrée, breads and spreads, and desserts, all in portions much too large for me, I felt it was my duty to my bank account to eat it all. One of the most difficult things about having diabetes for me was learning to say "No fries and no bread" when they wouldn't substitute more lettuce or broccoli for the offending carbs.
But I finally mastered that hurdle.
I'm on a low-carb diet, and when I'm at home, I have a kitchen stocked with low-carb snacks like nuts, low-carb vegetables, homemade kefir, low-carb pickles, and so forth. When I go into the house to make a cup of coffee, it's just too easy to grab a handful of nuts, or a few bites of a cucumber, or whatever. Not a lot of carbs or calories in any of these things, but little bits do add up to larger bits.
I also eat from boredom. When sitting at a desk reading complex articles on biochemistry or medicine, it's easy to get brain overload, and too easy to wander into the house to make a cup of coffee and snack and read the paper or something else that isn't particularly challenging.
On vacation, on the other hand, I'm constantly being exposed to new scenery, new people, new cities, so I'm not bored. In addition, all those low-carb snacks aren't available. I eat only when we stop for a meal.
Then, because I'm on a low-carb diet, the dining possibilities are limited. I soon get a surfeit of the ubiquitous chicken salad and have to move on to something else. But without the huge mounds of fries or other potatoes, bread, or pasta that usually fill up a plate, there's really not that much food there. There's enough, actually. All I really need. But no more.
And I've learned that when I eat carbohydrate foods now, like desserts or even bread, I get a sickly sweet taste in my mouth that lasts for hours, and the short-term pleasure of the food isn't worth the long-term mouth feeling. On my vacation, I did eat small amounts of some fruits I normally avoid, like cantaloupe, when it was clear that a hostess would have been uncomfortable if I had nothing at all for dessert. But even that tasted too sweet.
The real question for me is how I can translate my vacation weight loss into regular behavior at home, at least until I became too skinny. If I were rich, I'd hire a cook and only eat at mealtime. Unfortunately, that's not in the cards.
Maybe I should just take more trips.